By: Sean Crose
One of the interesting things that got lost in the madness leading up to Conor McGregor’s MMA superfight with Khabib Nurmagomadedov last weekend was McGregor being compared to Muhammad Ali before the media. To his credit, McGregor squashed the talk. One might think that would have been that, especially since McGregor was all but wiped out in his subsequent fight with Nurmagomedov last Saturday.
One would have been wrong.
Mere days after the UFC’s biggest star essentially got steamrolled in the octagon, there are those in the media still banging the McGregor-Ali drum. The latest? Yahoo running a piece comparing the McGregor-Nurmagomedov rivalry to that of Ali and Frazier. Let’s be frank – the comparison is a stretch. Frazier barely bested Ali in the first of their three matches. The two subsequent Ali-Frazier bouts (which Ali won) were likewise brutal and razor thin.
McGregor has only met Nurmagomedov in the octagon once to date, and with the exception of a single round, the Irishman was dominated. You don’t need to be Sherlock Holmes to deduce the obvious…McGregor got outclassed last weekend. He lost, just as he had lost numerous times before. Ali lost, too, but never in as one sided a manner as McGregor did against Nurmagomedov. It took an illness and 38 years for Ali to suffer the kind of one sided embarrassment to Larry Holmes that a 30 year old McGregor just suffered to his Russian foil.
A bit of hard truth….McGregor simply isn’t as good a mixed martial artist as Ali was a boxer. He just isn’t. And that simple fact should preclude any comparison between the two men right from the get go. McGregor may be better at mind games – though that’s arguable – but there might have been 10 other boxers in Ali’s time who were better than Ali at mind games. We’d never know who they were because they most likely wouldn’t have been as great as Ali when it came down to skill.
Despite what some say, talk isn’t cheap…at least not on all occasions. A great fighter, though, must consistently fight at least as good as he or she talks. And McGregor doesn’t do that. Not consistently he doesn’t. Not anymore. One doesn’t have to delve into social issues to see McGregor and Ali are like apples and oranges. One can simply keep the argument to the ring and to the octagon. It’s not bias to claim McGregor is no Ali. It’s just a relatively small act of honesty. The world of mixed martial arts may indeed produce the next Ali, and there will be nothing wrong with it if it does.
Just don’t expect it to be Conor McGregor.